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technology

Networking made easy

I continue to love FIOS. It is stable, and fast. Not all is well internet-wise though. Here’s the layout of the system currently; the main router/wireless interface is downstairs. There are two computers connected to it directly via ethernet. There are three of us sharing the 802.11G wireless. I’m upstairs using the wireless. Normally, things are fine, but more and more I think I’m running out of wireless bandwidth. Last night I tried to download a largish file and had some pretty bad speeds. As it turns out, two of the other guys were streaming over wi-fi too.

I have been thinking about getting a squeezebox (I blogged about that in my post radio reborn) and had assumed that I would use it wirelessly. After doing some reading, I don’t think that’s going to be a good idea. Music would have to go from my computer to the wireless router, and then from that to the squeezebox. With big music files (like FLAC or Apple lossless) and other things from my housemates via wi-fi, I don’t think it would work very well.

But what to do? I had thought that I could just move the router upstairs and connect directly, but they already have two computers hooked up. It doesn’t seem right to make them scramble to do something else. I’m in a rental, so it isn’t like I can run my own cabling in the walls.

There are in fact a couple of newish alternatives! One uses the electrical wiring in the house for networking. You buy two of the devices, one is attached via ethernet to your router and then plugged into an electrical outlet. The other device is plugged into any other outlet in the house. You then run a cable from that to your computer/device you need networked. This method is easy, and really flexible since there are usually plenty of outlets to choose from. There can be some troubles if the outlets aren’t on the same circuit, and interference on the lines could also be a problem.

I’ve decided to go with a MOCA (multimedia over Coax alliance) solution to my problem. This uses existing coax cable to network through the house. The set up is similar to the powerline stuff, but you need to attach it to a coax connection somewhere in the house. Here’s where it gets good for me. It turns out that FIOS is already using MOCA to send info throughout the house. What this means is that I already have the initial device on the line, I just need to add another.

So, from the coax port in my room, I will attach a splitter. One side will go to my set top box for TV, the other side will go to an actiontec router. That will give me 4 ethernet jacks. Not only will I avoid the potential signal dropouts from the squeezebox, but I should get more reliable (and possibly faster) internet as well.

If you’ve been wondering how to network more stuff in your house, this could be your answer. If you’re already on FIOS, half the equipment is already there! I’ll let you know how it goes, I plan on attempting this in 2 or three months.

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